Cold weather toughness and extra-inning resiliency played in favor of Jimmies baseball Saturday in Orange City, Iowa.
A 7-3 victory in eight innings plus a 7-0 romp over the Northwestern College Red Raiders capped a four-game Great Plains Athletic Conference weekend sweep for the University of Jamestown, which is scheduled to open play at Jack Brown Stadium this Thursday hosting Briar Cliff.
The Jimmies battled drizzle and temperatures in the 40s against the Raiders, but UJ was able to plate four runs in the eighth inning of game 1 after Northwestern rallied for two in the seventh and tied the game 3-3. UJ starter Kendall Yackley and the Jimmies' defense impressed in game 2, combining to shutout the 8-16 Raiders.
UJ pushed its current winning streak against Northwestern to six games dating back to 2019.
"Weather-wise it wasn't a great day for baseball, but I'll tell you what," said UJ baseball coach Tom Hager. "Our guys really showed some mental toughness and battled, and I'm really proud of how we were able to come out of there with two wins."
The Jimmies, who turned away Midland 6-0 and 5-2 on Friday in Fremont, Nebraska, improved to 18-10 overall and 5-3 in the conference. Briar Cliff will be carrying marks of 19-4 and 4-2 into Thursday's 2 p.m. doubleheader in Jamestown.
"I know that our guys are looking forward to playing at home and looking forward to playing good baseball," Hager said.
Jimmies 7, Raiders 3
Folding in Saturday's cold was an option for UJ after the Raiders got to reliable senior relief pitcher Andy Reed for two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
But Jamestown promptly loaded the bases with one out in the extra frame, scoring the go-ahead run on a Trever Reinke wild pitch before senior center fielder Chase Hacker delivered the knockout blow.
Hacker scored two by doubling down the right-field line off the Raiders' Ethan Buckner, who had just replaced Reinke after the run-scoring wild pitch in the middle of Hacker's at-bat.
UJ's Tayler Cullen would later push Hacker home from second with an RBI single to produce the final score. Brian Rice (walk), Yackley (hit by pitch) and Derek Almanza (infield hit) set the table to start, loading the sacks with one out.
"We showed some resiliency," Hager said. "Certainly we had the game in control and a couple things didn't go our way, but we were able to come back in the eighth and put some runs on the board and find a way to win."
UJ sophomore starting pitcher Payson Mills, making his fourth start for the Jimmies, tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-run baseball. Jamestown led 2-1 after four frames behind solo home runs produced by Yackley in the second and Luke Shekeryk leading off the fourth.
Yackley's big fly was his first of the year, while Shekeryk is up to seven.
A Brice Foster RBI single in the sixth -- an at-bat that wasn't even scheduled to happen -- plated what turned out to be a crucial insurance run.
Foster had been pinch-hit for left-handed bat Tanner Shepard with one out and UJ's Blake Arritola on third to face Northwestern starter, Dylan Kirkeby. Shepard, however, fouled a 1-2 pitch off his leg and Foster was brought back out of the dugout and into the batter's box.
Foster took the first pitch he saw down the line in left to score Arritola putting UJ up 3-1. Shepard wasn't seriously injured, pinch-hitting again in game 2.
"That was a big at-bat for us and it just happened to turn out our way," Hager said. "You never wish that bad luck on anybody, what Shepard had to experience. But, boy, Foster capitalized at that was huge."
Reed pitched a 1-2-3 sixth before running into trouble in the seventh. Singles by the Raiders' Jaden Snyder and Sutton Derr brought the go-ahead run to the plate with two outs, and a Colton Harold two-run triple got past a diving Hacker in center and to the wall to tie the game at 3-3.
UJ closer Aaron Pugh got Kip Cullinan to ground out to second with the winning run on third before nailing down the eighth to notch his first victory of the season.
"Give Northwestern credit for finding a way to put some guys on base and put some balls in play," Hager said. "But Pugh came up big and our offense was able to manufacture some runs and that's the resiliency we've been talking about all year."
Jimmies 7, Raiders 0
Saturday's poor conditions didn't diminish Yackley's command of the baseball.
The sophomore turned in a three-hit shutout with eight strikeouts in 84 pitches, but Jamestown's defense was equally light's out.
Cullen robbed Harold of a first-inning home run in left by scaling the fence and pulling the baseball back into play. The junior also batted 2-for-3 with an RBI double and two runs scored to help UJ complete the sweep.
"We made some great defensive plays," Hager said. "From just making the routine play to some unbelievable plays. When you have a pitcher who's attacking the zone and can make some special plays (defensively), well then you've got a chance to win a lot of games."
Yackley didn't allow a hit until the Raiders' Eli Rash blooped a fourth-inning single into shallow left with the Jimmies already leading 5-0.
The Jimmies jumped ahead 2-0 in the first with Cullen scoring on a Shekeryk groundout and Dylan Dudley crossing the plate on one of four Northwestern errors.
Cullen's run-scoring double came as UJ doubled the lead to 4-0 in the second. Grant Okawa also stroked an RBI single in the frame.
Another error cost the Raiders a run in the fifth and Foster plated UJ's final two runs with a single in the seventh.
Yackley showed signs of his growing command last Sunday in Hastings, Nebraska, collecting five strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings of relief against Hastings College.
"Kendall came up big for us in game 1 with that home run to get us going, and in game 2 he really settled in and attacked the strike zone and pitched a heck of a game," Hager said. "We saw glimpses of that last week in relief against Hastings and he brought that confidence from last weekend to today. He pitched at a very high level today."
University of Jamestown 7, Northwestern College 3 (8 in.)
UJ 010 101 04 -- 7 8 1
NC 001 000 20 -- 3 9 1
Payson Mills, Noah Soltero (5), Andy Reed (6), Aaron Pugh (7) and Connor Mormon, Dirk Eymundson (8). Dylan Kirkeby, Nate Rice (7), Trever Reinke (8), Ethan Buckner (8) and Gavin Lorenzen. W-Pugh (1-2). L-Reinke (0-1).
Highlights: UJ, Mills 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 75 NP; Soltero 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R; Reed 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO; Pugh 1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO; Tayler Cullen 1-4, RBI; Grant Okawa 1-4; Luke Shekeryk 2-3, HR, RBI; Brice Foster 1-4, RBI; Kendall Yackley 1-2, HR, RBI; Derek Almanza 1-1, R; Chase Hacker 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI.
NW, Kirkeby 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO; Reinke 1/3 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB. Jaden Snyder 2-3, HR, RBI; Colton Harold 1-4, 3B, 2 RBI.
Records: Jamestown 17-10, 4-3 GPAC. Northwestern 8-15, 1-6.
University of Jamestown 7, Northwestern College 0
UJ 220 100 2 -- 7 9 0
NW 000 000 0 -- 0 3 4
Kendall Yackley and Dirk Eymundson. Luke Hughes, Ryan Reynolds (4), Ben Zeuthenorst (5), Trever Reinke (6), Sutton Derr (7) and Michael Zeigler. W-Yackley. L-Hughes.
Highlights: UJ, Yackley 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 84 NP; Brice Foster 1-4, 3 RBI; Tayler Cullen 2-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R; Grant Okawa 1-3, 2 RBI; Michael Asahara 1-3, R; Dylan Dudley 2-3, 2 R; Dirk Eymundson 2-3.
NW, Hughes 3 1/3 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 1 SO.
Records: Jamestown 18-10, 5-3 GPAC. Northwestern 8-16, 1-7.